Pakistan vs India: Shoaib Akhtar must play in the semi-final

Published: March 27, 2011

Labourers prepare a billboard featuring a giant picture of Pakistani cricket team pacer Shoaib Akhtar in Islamabad. PHOTO: AFP

It was easily one of the most one-sided encounters, in all world cups, as Pakistan thrashed West Indies by 10 wickets to reach the semi-finals for the sixth time in the tournament’s history.

The Shere Bangla National Stadium, where Bangladesh were crushed by 10 wickets earlier by the West Indies, now stood up to applaud Pakistan avenge their defeat by the same opposition. It was too easy a win. West Indies batsmen fell like ninepins and Pakistan openers seemed to be in a hurry to knock off the meager total. But there’s still a lot to learn. Yes, it was a near-flawless win but I say near because there’s need for improvement.

It does sound like a cliché now but fielding needs to improve. There might be a lot of hard work in the training sessions but there were still lapses. In crunch matches, under-pressure situations and against high-quality oppositions, a minor mistake means you go back and pack your bags for Pakistan.

The other thing that I feel that needs to be done is to recall fast-bowler Shoaib Akhtar in the playing-eleven. He has warmed the benches for the last two games and I don’t see any reason for the experienced campaigner to sit out. Wahab Riaz may be good but in pressure situations, let’s say 50 required off five overs, Akhtar is the man a captain would hand the ball to.

He has the ability to demolish the opposition, single-handedly, and while Umar Gul may be doing well with the new ball, pressure needs to be applied from both ends in a situation like that. India will be our next opposition and Akhtar is the man who should be unleashed on them. Not Mohammad Hafeez or Riaz.

Hafeez has finally delivered, after being persisted with too much, but his bowling and wickets are always a bonus. Not an expectation. One mistake, however, was the inclusion of Saeed Ajmal. The off-spinner was thrown in the quarter-final and while the move didn’t backfire – given West Indies’ vulnerability against spin – it was a gamble. It paid off but should’ve happened earlier.

But now that the spinner took two wickets, his confidence would have rocketed and in the semi-final, he should be continued with.

Gul has done well with the new ball and Akhtar’s absence has done him wonders. His bowling at the death is still the key in a close game but I do feel that Riaz is not the ideal replacement for Akhtar in One-Day Internationals. Riaz’s run-up and huge strides to the bowling mark need to be worked on. When you take big steps, you’re tipping towards imbalance and that can hurt line and length.

This is not take away any credit for a wonderful performance by Pakistan. Let’s not take credit away from the captain Shahid Afridi or the team management. With a young side, they have done well. Good luck to them for the semis.

Published in The Express Tribune.



A former Test fast-bowler for the Pakistan cricket team.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Waleed muslim khan

    I think you have forgotten the beating he recieved from tendulkar Recommend

  • Abdul Moeed Shahid

    not everytime its tendulkar day either..Recommend

  • Paracha

    I request you to please makeup minds of our innocent people for defeat aswell.
    My prediction and concerns about Pakistan VS India
    Pakistan will lose certainly because of two good reasons
    1. On paper India is better side than Pakistan, more Consistent and with extra ordinary batting lineup with mediocre balling where as Pakistan has inconsistent and unreliable batting with better balling but since they play spinners well and matches are on subcontinent wickets one can’t win with balling only.
    2. Second and most important thing which I think will cause Pakistan’s defeat.The match will be Fixed at Governments Level and Pakistan will be offered Huge money which they can’t deny. since we (our Politicians) have no Integrity and Moral, I doubt that match will be fixed .Recommend

  • Ahsan Mansoor

    Completely agree. Shoaib must play. Theres no other option but to attack.Recommend

  • Namwar Abbas

    Pakistan will Win InshallahRecommend

  • Sumair ahmed

    lol Shoaid is ruthless he can knock them off any time on any day and on any ground i am worried he must play against india coz sher bhora bhe hoo jaye tu gedar us k kareeb nh jata INSHAALLAH we gonna win the semi Recommend

  • Sumair ahmed

    i mean SHoaib** there was a typing error in my last msg any way i am outta of here :PRecommend

  • omer balala

    Pakistan will Win InshallahRecommend

  • qaisar farooq

    yes you are very much right Pakistan need shoib akhtar in semi final because Pakistan just have one option to attack on india and shoib is the only choice to attack on india. i hope shoib will play in semi final.because we all know the strength of indian batting and how they play againset spinners. and we must have to remember one thing that indians can prepare a green top wicket to distrub pak batsmans.Recommend

  • faisal

    @ Waleed Muslim Khan

    I think you have forgotten when he broke the stumps of Tendulkar on the first ball.Recommend

  • Kobe24

    @Sumair ahmed:
    This is where emotions ruin cricket sense. Akhtar has huge fitness issue, as Indian I would love to have Akhtar than Riaz or other bowler. Survive the first spell, he breaks down later in the innings, no fast bowler other than Gul, Kill the spinners, India will murder Pakistan in the last 10 overs.What happened to Pakistan bowling attack in the last 10 overs in NZ. Please lets talk in cricket sense.Now the real bowler in Pakistani side is Umar Gul, the best bowler period. Deal with Umar and Afridi then go after the remaining bowlers.Recommend

  • Danish

    Disregard the past Demand for Shoaib is not specifically because of Sachin. This is the best time for him (and for Pakistan) to conclude his career in the best way. Everyone knows he will will give his maximum this time. Recommend

  • Shafiq

    Pakistan will win InshALLAH by the grace of Almighty.
    Shoaib must play as he is the only in pak side who threatened the whole indian team several time.
    Else our all players are well and will win definately InshALLAH and one appeal from experts & nation that please don’t underestimate the guys. If they beat Aus then india stands nowhere in their way……

    And please plz plz plz pray for PakistanRecommend

  • Shafiq

    I do not know about your 2nd point and even do not like to comment, but about 1st reason yes if our performance is inconsistent then what you said about india against west indies match??????
    its cricket dear,… depende much on the day, toss, ground and many other things…..Recommend

  • Zohaib Mukhtar Sahir

    shoaib is the soul of pak cricket Recommend

  • Zohaib Mukhtar Sahir

    strong textshoaib plz plz plz shoaib we prod of u dont break the dil of all pakistaniRecommend

  • Mohammed

    Balling. :)Recommend

  • http://yahoo KASHIF ZAREEF ABBASI

    Inshallah! Pakistan will win the semi final. If shoaib play for pakistan then it will be much better for Pakistan.Recommend

  • Sonia JS

    OK seriously, this ‘fixing’ blame game must stop right away, please! Just enjoy the sport and don’t ruin it with negative comments that hold no factual value. In case you have doubts based on certain facts, contact relevant officials AFTER the match!Recommend

  • Khalid Rahim

    Last night at a function the issue of Shoaib Akhtar and semi-finals came under discussion. At least their were eight persons who felt that he must not play. We asked why and the answer, he
    is extremely emotional and vindictive. One person reminded of the match against the Kiwis and
    the two drop catches; so we asked how did that make him emotional or vindictive, Well he said
    in his last over he handed 28 runs? There were two persons who strongly supported him and one said; Afridi has to make it very clear to Akmal concentrate on the game and watch the ball.
    Personally Shoaib can at least give his team the part gift of victory before retirement.Recommend

  • javed

    SA should play if he thinks that he is 100 percent fit and can justify with his job.Recommend

  • http://google ahsan

    ishahllah pakistan win the workd cup.Recommend

  • aqeel

    good luck pakistanRecommend

  • Dia

    Now we can state that Wahab replaced him well; it was rather Gul who needed to sit outside and let Shoaib take the ball.. LOL!!Recommend